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a-ha

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Biography

Pal Waaktaar and Magne Furuholmen, formerly of Bridges, formed Norwegian synth pop group a-ha in the early '80s. Nimble vocalist Morten Harket joined the duo, and they left for the now "legendary London flat" (so called because of its state of disrepair) to make it. By late 1983 they had achieved part of that goal by signing to WEA. Their debut single, "Take On Me," went through three versions before becoming a hit in the U.K., eventually reaching number two in November 1985. It went one better in the U.S., mainly due to the wide exposure of its stunning video on MTV, which fused animation with real-life action. They returned to the charts with "The Sun Always Shines on T.V." which became a U.K. number one in early 1986, helping take the album Hunting High and Low to the Top Ten. The song hit the Top 20 in the U.S., where the album reached number 15. With a-ha's debut album mainly consisting of romantic synth pop, the press were quick to dismiss them as a teeny bop sensation; however, there was more than met the ear at first impression in Waaktaar's writing, and a more mature effort, Scoundrel Days, was released in October 1986. More focused, it had a stronger band feel thanks to its live drumming evident on "The Swing of Things" and lead single "I've Been Losing You," which surprised critics at the time. Further striking imagery accompanied "Cry Wolf." The album landed in the Top 30 in Norway and cracked the top half of the Billboard 200 in the U.S. After a world tour, a-ha provided the theme to the James Bond flick The Living Daylights. A remix appeared on their third album, Stay on These Roads, in 1988. In 1990, a-ha were commended by the Everly Brothers for their rendition of "Crying in the Rain" from their fourth album, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, which was largely ignored in the U.K. due to a shift in interests toward dance and the Manchester scene. The year 1993 heralded some much needed new blood in the U2 terrain of "Dark Is the Night" from the Memorial Beach album. Following the unfortunate lack of success following Memorial Beach, Furuholmen retreated into the art world while Waaktaar released the album Mary Is Coming with his new band Savoy. Seven years after the release of Memorial Beach, a-ha issued Minor Earth Major Sky in summer 2000. Released in 2002, Lifelines sold well in Europe and was followed by a lengthy tour, documented on the live album How Can I Sleep with Your Voice in My Head, issued in 2003. A year later a-ha celebrated their 20th anniversary by releasing Singles 1984-2004, a collection that would put them back in the U.K. Top 20. In July of 2005, the band performed in Berlin as part of the massive worldwide event Live8, and in November they released the album Analogue. It was supported by a worldwide tour that included gigs in Russia and a festival in Chile. In 2009, upon issuing their ninth studio album, Foot of the Mountain, a-ha announced that they would be retiring. However, they returned in 2015 with Cast in Steel, which was followed by a world tour. Coinciding with the 2017 summer solstice, the group headed to the remote island of Giske off of Norway's west coast to record their first ever acoustic concerts, for MTV Unplugged. With arrangements by producer Lars Horntveth, the, by then, perennial arena band played a career-spanning set with guests Ian McCulloch (Echo & the Bunnymen), Alison Moyet, Lissie, and Ingrid Helene Håvik (Highasakite) for an audience of only 250. That October, the show was released in seven different versions under the title MTV Unplugged: Summer Solstice, along with an abbreviated, single-disc Acoustic Hits: MTV Unplugged. Summer Solstice debuted at number three on the album chart in Germany, number six in the U.K., and number 11 in their home country, and was followed by another world tour in 2018. ~ Kelvin Hayes
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Take on Me
  3.   The Sun Always Shines On T.V.
  4.   The Living Daylights
  5.   I've Been Losing You
  6.   Crying in the Rain
  7.   Here I Stand and Face the Rain
  8.   Summer Moved On
  9.   Angel in the Snow
  10.   Scoundrel Days
  11.   Sox of the Fox
  12.   Cold as Stone/Sycamore Leaves
  13.   Bar Room
  14.   Sail on My Love
  15.   Evitar
  16.   Thus Ended Our Love Affair
  17.   I'll Never Find Streetful City
  18.   Out of the Blue Comes Green
  19.   Trees Will Not Grow on the Sand
  20.   Goodbye Thompson
  21.   Giving Up the Ghost
  22.   She's Humming a Tune
  23.   Mythomania
  24.   Under the Makeup
  25.   Cast in Steel
  26.   The Sphinx
  27.   Nå Blåser Det På Jorden
  28.   What's That You're Doing to Yourself
  29.   You Have Grown Thoughtful Again
  30.   Presenting Lily Mars
  31.   Monday Mourning
  32.   Lesson One
  33.   Dream Myself Alive
  34.   Days On End
  35.   Butterfly, Butterfly (The Last Hurrah)
  36.   The Bandstand
  37.   Start the Simulator
  38.   Shadowside
  39.   Nothing Is Keeping You Here
  40.   Mother Nature Goes to Heaven
  41.   Foot of the Mountain
  42.   Over the Treetops
  43.   Analogue
  44.   Dark Is the Night
  45.   Solace
  46.   Dragonfly
  47.   Did Anyone Approach You?
  48.   Forever Not Yours
  49.   Lifelines
  50.   Shapes That Go Together
  51.   Cold River
  52.   Waiting for Her
  53.   Sycamore Leaves
  54.   East of the Sun
  55.   Slender Frame
  56.   I Wish I Cared
  57.   The Sun Never Shone That Day
  58.   Velvet
  59.   Minor Earth Major Sky
  60.   Out of Blue Comes Green
  61.   There's Never a Forever Thing
  62.   Hurry Home
  63.   This Alone Is Love
  64.   I Call Your Name
  65.   Early Morning
  66.   The Blood That Moves the Body
  67.   You Are the One
  68.   Touchy!
  69.   Stay on These Roads
  70.   The Swing of Things
  71.   October
  72.   Manhattan Skyline
  73.   Cry Wolf
  74.   We're Looking for the Whales
  75.   The Weight of the Wind
  76.   Maybe, Maybe
  77.   Soft Rains of April
  78.   Train of Thought
  79.   Hunting High and Low
  80.   The Blue Sky
  81.   Living a Boy's Adventure Tale
  82.   And You Tell Me
  83.   Love Is Reason
  84.   I Dream Myself Alive
  85.   Dark Is the Night for All
  86.   Move to Memphis
  87.   Cold as Stone
  88.   Locust
  89.   Lie Down in Darkness
  90.   How Sweet It Was
  91.   Lamb to the Slaughter
  92.   Nothing to It
  93.   The Wake
  94.   Differences
  95.   This Is Our Home
  96.   Scoundrel Days by Ian McCulloch
  97.   Shadow Endeavors
  98.   Between Your Mama and Yourself
  99.   Umbrella
  100.   The Love Goodbye
  101.   What There Is
  102.   Sunny Mystery
  103.   Real Meaning
  104.   You Wanted More
  105.   Rolling Thunder
  106.   The Way We Talk
  107.   (Seemingly) Nonstop July
  108.   A Break in the Clouds
  109.   The Sun Always Shines on TV
  110.   Living at the End of the World
  111.   Door Ajar
  112.   Stop! And Make Your Mind Up
  113.   Go to Sleep
  114.   Dot the I
  115.   All the Planes That Come in on the Quiet
  116.   Turn the Light Down
  117.   Objects in the Mirror
  118.   Memorial Beach
  119.   The Killing Moon by Ian McCulloch
  120.   What's That You're Doing to Yourself in the Pouring Rain
  121.   You'll End Up Crying
  122.   Riding the Crest
  123.   Driftwood
  124.   Forest Fire
  125.   Never Never
  126.   I've Been Losing You by Lissie
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